Swung 180 Degrees and now the rules are different?!?!?!?!

Here is my frustration for today:

I struggled with anorexia and bulimia from age 19 to about 30.  15 years of struggle.  "No quick fix."  was what I heard from psychiatrists/counselors.   My spouse used to come with me to some of my counseling.  The focus was me:  my issues; how I coped with emotional pain through the eating disorder behavior; how difficult it was for  my spouse to be hopeless in 'making' me eat differently. 

I knew it was me with the  issues.  Yes, I knew it was me. He knew it was me.  Me. Me. Me.  And I heard things along the lines of "Oh, Mr. I'm So exhausted, how lucky she is to have your support.  This issue is so tough to deal with.  It is so hard to watch a loved one struggle."  I considered myself 100% out of the struggle at age 35.

3 years after the end of that struggle,  the ADHD realm entered our lives when we realized our 3rd grade son has an ADHD wired brain.  And soon I realized my husband had an ADHD wired brain.  (So in reality, ADHD had always been in our marriage - we just didn't know it.)

Fast forward 19 more years.  Lots of marriage counseling.  And you know what I am longing for?

To sit in a counselor's office, and have a counselor say "Oh, Mrs. I'm So exhausted, how lucky HE is to have YOUR support.  This issue is so tough to deal with.  It is so hard to watch a loved one struggle."

Selfish, maybe, but man it would be so nice.  

There was not kid-gloves in addressing my anorexia.  It was clear to me it could kill me - it was made clear to my spouse it could kill me. Yep, we both heard the psychiatrist say to me, "If you lose one more pound, I am slapping you in the hospital." I really think that was my turning point.  

Why is ADHD counseling so different?  Why do we have to protect his ego?  Why do I have to walk on egg shells and have to worry about making him feel bad?

Very confusing.   

No one should be nasty.  No one should be accusing.  I'm just talking about REAL.  Most of my issues stemmed from being a people pleaser.  Losing myself, so others would be happy.  Funny that I did the same thing in my marriage.  Lost myself, so my spouse would be happy.  This is part of my own reality.  Part of where my stubborn-ness comes from.  A huge part of why my heels are dug in.

I once again heard from my spouse how sympathetic his new ADHD coach is to him  - as he does not have a spouse who will enter into counseling with him.  

Grrr.  I wish he would tell her that he/we have tried 15 various counselors, but he has yet been able to take responsibility for anything. . . . . . . .   I wish he would say we did the Dr. Phill Relationship Rescue in 2009 - and our lives were transformed into a living dream . . . . . but within 9 months time, he didn't/couldn't/wouldn't do the work so it all fell back to a big mess.  

I know that worked.  He refuses to revisit it.  Don't know why. . . . . . . 

I had it for a while in my grubby  little paws.  I know it is a possibility.  I just need/want/hope it could happen again.  

And that is a " Moment of Time with I'm So Exhausted" for today .


My experience wasn't exactly

My experience wasn't exactly the same, but I can relate to this, "exhausted."  I had an eating disorder when I was in high school.  I spent a lot of time in the hospital.  I busted my ass in contemplation of myself and my behaviors and in working on changing myself.  I've also dealt with anxiety and depression for much of my life.  Same thing:  I've worked very hard to find effective coping mechanisms, so that I can be the best possible parent and spouse and employee and person despite my issues, which are rooted, just as is my husband's ADHD, in my genetic inheritance and in my upbringing.  To see my husband diddle around for years, nay decades, being afraid to try things that might actually be effective is incredibly frustrating.

Your husband is incredibly

Your husband is incredibly fortunate to have your support!!!

Good job you, and Rosered, in beating the eating disorder demons! 

eating disorders that leave you hospitalized, or near it, are really hard to argue with. Treatment is clearly needed. But our husbands managed to live decades with their condition without needing treatment and did ok. Perhaps the lack of crisis point allows for avoidance. It is super frustrating when they don't do the seemingly easy things, like eat and sleep, that help so much.  Exhausted, have you asked your dh why he doesn't want to apply the dr Phil program again? How does he respond? Was he as happy those 9 months as you were? 


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Relationship Rescue


I haven't brought it up in a while.  I remember that he was happy.  We had a repaired intimate life . . . .so using that as a barometer . . . yes, he was happy.  Our intimate life seems to be everything to him.  

Once again where my stubborn-ness/heels are dug in is that I am 'so-over' doing it all.  Buying the books.  Setting up the schedule.  Reminding him of the time were are going to sit down and work on it.  I did it all last time.  I more or less forced it - and it was successful.

Today, at this moment in time,  it is not worth the parent/child position of making him do it.

What I need from him is for him to 'want' to do it.  Him to acknowledge how the negative ADHD behaviors cause havoc in our lives.  By no means am I wanting him to say "It is all my fault."  I just need a glimmer of hope that he gets it.

I have heard a lot lately "What are you willing to do to make this marriage work?"  Well after at least 10 marriage counselors over the past years, including the Melissa Orlov's Couple Sessions,  until I see and feel some changes, I am not willing to do much - other than be supportive of what he is trying to accomplish with the ADHD coach.  

I really can't understand why they don't just pull his focus back to him? I guess it is possible that they do - I am not present in his sessions - so I can only base my opinions on how my ADHD spouse interprets what is said.  

I think of Al-anon meetings where we sit and listen to a person's pain - and what we have to offer them is the knowledge that "If you are attending these meeting to fix your significant other, it will not work.  You need to fix you attitude, your coping skills, your life.  Detachment.  Love them, not their behavior."   

That is why, discussing my marriage is a hard and tumultuous thing.  But my life is quite happy and content.  



I get it

I guess your post was really about accountability with the caregiver. Yours didn't let you avoid your issues and the negative consequences but  you think add-ers seem to even in treatment.  I do sometimes wonder what really goes on in these sessions. I expect that the things they talk about drive the sessions and they aren't likely to bring up what paints them in an ugly light. Or they don't report the parts recommending accountability back to you. 

We walk on eggshells and assuage egos because its easier for us than to do what we are supposed to according to the books. Cuz we know it will lead to an ugly, painful discussion we don't want to hear or don't have time for. Problem is that it becomes habit and reinforces bad behavior. We are supposed to require accountability, it's just really hard to do.

Your husband, like most people, is unlikely to spontaneously choose accountability until there is a crisis that shows him that he wants it for himself. Or some kind of epiphany.  I'm pleased you say you're happy and content. That is impressive given the circumstances. Good luck.

I'm So Exhausted's picture

It's possible, it's possible


I think of the marriage counseling session we have had together, and I do believe his depressed demeanor, his sadness, his crying, his emotional despair are things that drive the whole session.  Well yes, it is true he does not drink.  Nor do drugs.  Nor have affairs.  Nor have a girlfriend.  Nor call me names.  Nor have a gambling problem.  Nor drive up the driveway in a new truck, or towing a new boat.  Nor physically hurt me in any shape or form. 

However, neither does an infant in a crib.  Or a one-year old toddler.  Or a two-year old.

Am I calling him a baby?  No.  Just want to drive home the point.

It is also true that I do not drink.  Nor do drugs.  Nor have affairs.  Nor have a boyfriend.  Nor have a gambling problem.  Nor drive up the driveway in a new car, or towing a new snowmobile. I have flung a book at him in utter frustration.  I have grabbed him very hard by the shoulders to get him to look me in the eye.  He is 6'4" - I am 5'7" - it did not produce the outcome I hoped.

His good behaviors are all the things he wants to focus on.  "I  always do those things, so why isn't she happy?"  I start to explain that those good characteristics do not allow for any other poor behavior.  In his brain - they do.  

So then crying starts, and the deep despair - and we get so far away from the issue, and the sessions fall into "How can YOU not be moved by HIS raw display of emotions?"

I can tell you.  It is like a parlor trick that he uses all the time.  Would you call it 'smoke and mirrors' maybe?

He is a master at keeping far away from dealing with an issue.  Shall we discuss chronic lateness and time blindness?  "Hey, I was home ON TIME yesterday.  When was the last time I was late?"  If I say when he was late, then we spin off into the "So, You're keeping track of me now?"

Oh I know all the tricks he uses to deflect off the problems.  He has a big ol' paintbrush to color the situation.  

If I worked at a bank and was always on time; kept a neat an orderly desk; smiled; was kind to the customers; solved problems left and right; stayed late when necessary to find the calculation errors - all those things would be negated if I also took home random handfuls of the bank's cash every week.  True, no one ever saw me take it - but it surely caused an affect on my position.




I'm So Exhausted's picture

A Reflection on my own reflection

<<But my life is quite happy and content>>

My sense of self is quite happy and content.

My 'life' is in quite an uproar with the ever-present questions of:

"Do we stay married, do we go our separate ways?"

"Do I stay married, do I go my separate way?"

"Do I go my separate way based on how I feel?"

"Have I done all the work I possibly can to make this marriage the best it can be?"

"How can this marriage be the best it can be if there are not 2 people rowing in the same direction?"

"I see glimmers that he wants this to work out, I see that he is working hard, but I don't see the fruits that will lead to happiness for us together."

"I see him cry, say he is working 'so' hard, and point out , "See, I have washed the dishes." 

I just do not want to live in a relationship where everything is run on what he wants - the chores he wants to do, the places he wants to go, the church he wants to attend, the place he wants to live, the disorganization he wants to live in, the time he wants to get up, the time he wants me to get up, the time he wants to go to bed, the time he wants me to go to bed, . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Thank you for writing this.

Thank you for writing this.  It mirrors my thoughts.  I spend so much time thinking about how to make the marriage work and whether to make the marriage work.  It's exhausting.  

What makes it so ironic is that my husband thinks he has no control or power in our relationship.  But as illustrated above, he, like your spouse, has shaped the relationship to what it has become.